Our Real Estate Blog
Buying a vacation home may prove to be a great investment. It enables you to spend time at a terrific location at your convenience – all without having to worry about hotel or motel costs. Plus, a vacation home can be tailored to your individual needs. You can decorate your vacation house however you would like, and ultimately, find ways to make this residence a fun spot to visit any time you choose.
If you decide to search for a vacation home, it helps to prepare for the house buying process accordingly. Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you launch a successful search for a vacation residence.
1. Know Where You Want to Go
Consider where you want to purchase a vacation house, as well as how far away you want this residence to be from your primary home. Then, you can narrow your vacation house search to residences in a select group of cities and towns.
Think about your vacation home must-haves, too. Oftentimes, it helps to make a list of vacation home must-haves that you can use to guide your house search. Once you have this list at your disposal, you can use it to accelerate your quest to find a vacation home that suits you perfectly.
2. Establish a Homebuying Budget
Find out how much you can afford to pay for a vacation residence. Because if you conduct a vacation home search with a budget in hand, you could find a superb house that offers the ideal blend of affordability and quality.
Generally, it helps to meet with banks and credit unions before you launch a vacation home search. These financial institutions employ home financing specialists who can teach you about various mortgage options. Also, you can work with a home financing specialist to establish a house buying budget that ensures you won't have to spend beyond your means to acquire a first-rate vacation residence.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
When it comes to searching for a vacation home, there is no need to work alone. If you employ a real estate agent, you can receive expert assistance as you navigate the homebuying journey.
A real estate agent understands what it takes to purchase a vacation home in any city or town, at any time. First, he or she will meet with you and learn about your vacation homebuying goals. A real estate agent next will help you hone your vacation home search and set up property showings. Finally, if you find a vacation home you want to acquire, a real estate agent will help you submit a competitive offer to buy this residence.
Ready to purchase a vacation home? Take advantage of the aforementioned tips – you will be happy you did. By using these tips, you can quickly and effortlessly perform a comprehensive vacation home search. Perhaps best of all, you can speed up the process of finding a top-notch vacation residence that matches your expectations.
Open houses can be a great way to get to know a home and the neighborhood it sits in. Sure, the seller will be trying to put their best foot forward on the big day. But, you’ll still be able to get a chance to tour the home relatively uninterrupted.
But what should you look for in particular when attending an open house?
There are a number of things you can learn at an open house. Many prospective buyers spend the time looking at things like paint color and cosmetic touches that can easily be changed, and very little time considering important factors that should go into their home buying decision.
So, in today’s post, I’m going to cover some of the lesser known things you should be looking out for when you attend an open house. That way, you’ll know which houses are worth considering further and which ones should be left behind.
Not enough storage space
If you find yourself constantly running out of storage space (and who doesn’t?), you’ll want to make sure the home has ample space to store your belongings. If it doesn’t, see if you can find ways to repurpose areas for storage, such as spare bedrooms or garage space.
Overly scented areas
It’s perfectly normal for a seller’s agent to place one or two choice candles in the home during an open house.
However, if you notice some rooms have an overpowering smell of candles or air fresheners, there’s a good chance it’s there to mask offensive and hard to remove smells. Pet and cigarette odors are among the worst culprits.
The windows, doors, and cabinets should work like a dream
When attending an open house, take note of how well the doors open and close. If appropriate, ask the seller’s agent if you can try out the windows and cabinets as well.
Problems with these items can be signs of poor craftsmanship, cheap materials, or neglect.
Traffic and neighbors
If you’ve found what you think is the perfect home, it can be easy to see the world through rose-colored lenses.
However, it’s important to take them off when looking around the yard. Take note of the traffic level, and the amount of privacy the home receives. If you like the home, it’s also a good idea to stop by the neighborhood during rush house to gauge how traffic would affect your commute.
Air flow issues
Improper ventilation can lead to mold growth, especially in bathrooms and kitchens. Make sure bathroom vents and fans work properly, and check windows for condensation.
In rooms with sinks, check around the base of the sink and counter for signs of water damage or mold.
Large cracks in foundations or ceilings
While small, hairline cracks in the foundation of a home are completely normal, large ones can be dangerous.
They can allow water and pests to enter the home, causing all types of costly damages.
Keep those six tips in mind when you attend the open house, and be sure to bring a list of any other questions you might have for the seller’s agent.
The US government has been helping Americans achieve their goal of homeownership for decades. Through programs offered by the Federal Housing Authority, the USDA, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, millions of Americans have been able to afford a home who would have otherwise struggled.
The focus of today’s post is one such service: loans offered through the USDA Rural Development program.
If you’re hoping to buy a home in the near future but are worried about being able to save up enough for a down payment or build your credit score in time, USDA loans could be a viable option.
Let’s take a look at some of the common questions people have about USDA loans:
Do I have to live in the middle of nowhere to get a USDA loan?
The short answer is “no.” rural development loan eligibility for your area is laid out on a map provided by the USDA. Most of the suburbs outside of major cities, as well as nearly all rural areas, are covered by the rural development program.
Can I qualify for a USDA loan if I’ve previously owned a home?
Yes. You may be eligible for a loan as long as you’re not the current owner of a home that was purchased through the rural development program. So, for example, if you own a home financed through the USDA and wanted to buy a second home and rent out the first one, you wouldn’t be able to finance your second home through the USDA.
How does the USDA loan guarantee work?
When you buy a home, a lender asks you to make a down payment. If you don’t have a down payment, the government (USDA, VA, or FHA) insures the down payment on your home rather than you paying it up front.
Will I have to pay mortgage insurance?
Unlike other subsidized loans, rural development loans require a “guarantee fee” rather than PMI (private mortgage insurance). The guarantee fee is 1% the total mortgage amount and this can typically be financed into the loan (so you don’t have to pay up front). In addition to the guarantee fee, USDA loans also charge an annual premium for the lifetime of a loan.
What are the qualifications for a USDA loan?
To find full eligibility information, complete the survey on the USDA’s eligibility website to find out if you qualify. However, the general qualifications are:
Buying a home in a qualifying area
24 months of income history
A credit score of 640 or higher for streamlined processing
Income high enough so that your monthly payments do not exceed 29% of your monthly earnings
What is the direct loan program?
The USDA really offers multiple urban development loans. The guarantee program, for which most single families utilize, and the direct loan program. Direct loans are designed for families who have the greatest need. You can also find out if you’re eligible for a direct loan by filling out the questionnaire on their website.
The homebuying journey may prove to be long and complex, particularly for an individual who fails to plan ahead. Fortunately, there are lots of things that you can do to get ready to pursue your dream house, such as:
1. Make a Homebuying Budget
A homebuying budget will give you a good idea about how much money you have at your disposal to find your ideal residence. Thus, if you craft a homebuying budget, you can hone your house search to residences that fall within your price range.
As you craft a homebuying budget, you should consider both your house mortgage and closing costs. That way, you can prepare for myriad costs that you may encounter as you try to acquire your dream house.
You also may want to meet with various banks and credit unions. These financial institutions can help you budget for a home purchase. Perhaps best of all, they can help you get pre-approved for a mortgage.
2. Narrow Your Home Search
You know you want to purchase a house, but it usually is beneficial to understand what you want to find in your dream residence. If you put together a list of home must-haves and wants, you can narrow your house search accordingly.
Consider your short- and long-term aspirations prior to launching a home search. For instance, if you need a home that is close to your office in the city, you may want to check out residences in or near the city itself. On the other hand, if you aspire to own a residence that includes a state-of-the-art heating and cooling system, you should explore homes that offer this feature.
3. Hire a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is a must-hire, especially for an individual who wants to seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey. Because if you have a real estate agent at your side, you can take the guesswork out of finding and purchasing your dream residence.
Typically, a real estate agent learns about a buyer's goals and crafts a personalized homebuying strategy based on his or her aspirations. If you want to purchase a budget-friendly house as quickly as possible, for instance, a real estate agent will help you accomplish your goal. Conversely, if you are operating on a tight homebuying budget, a real estate agent will do everything possible to help you find a first-rate house that won't put you in the red.
Let's not forget about the homebuying expertise that a real estate agent possesses, either. A real estate agent understands all aspects of the homebuying journey and will share his or her industry insights with you. Therefore, if you ever have concerns or questions during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent will respond to them at your request.
Those who understand what to expect during the homebuying journey can boost the likelihood of finding a terrific house at an affordable price. Thanks to the aforementioned tips, you could reap the benefits of a successful home search.
The homebuying journey may be long and arduous, regardless of whether you're pursuing a house for the first time. However, if you bring your A-game to the homebuying journey, you can speed up the process of finding and acquiring your dream residence.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you bring your A-game to the homebuying journey.
1. Establish Homebuying Criteria
There is no need to waste time and resources as you search for your ideal residence. Thankfully, with homebuying criteria in hand, you can streamline your home search.
Consider the cities and towns where you may want to reside. Then, you can narrow your house search to a select group of cities and towns.
Also, think about the features you want in your dream house. If you want to own a residence that offers a beautiful outdoor swimming pool, for example, you can hone your house search accordingly. Or, if you require a home that provides multiple spacious bedrooms, you can pursue houses that match your criteria.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Pre-approval for a mortgage is paramount, particularly for homebuyers who want to know exactly how much they can spend on a residence. If you meet with banks and credit unions, you can get pre-approved for a mortgage in no time at all.
Of course, when you meet with banks and credit unions, don't hesitate to ask home financing questions. Banks and credit unions employ knowledgeable home financing professionals who can teach you about the differences between fixed- and adjustable-rate mortgages and much more. As such, these professionals can help you make an informed mortgage selection.
You should consult with a variety of banks and credit unions, too. That way, you can learn about all of the mortgage options at your disposal and choose a mortgage that suits you perfectly.
3. Work with a Real Estate Agent
Ultimately, there is no reason to work alone when you search for your ideal home. But if you hire a real estate agent, you can receive expert guidance as you navigate the homebuying journey.
A real estate agent knows the ins and outs of the housing market and is happy to share his or her homebuying insights with you. Plus, a real estate agent will craft a plan to help you quickly discover your dream home. And if you are concerned about acquiring a house at the lowest-possible price, a real estate agent is ready to negotiate with a home seller on your behalf as well.
Furthermore, a real estate agent can guide you through the home closing cycle. He or she will help you finalize your home purchase and ensure you can relocate to a new house without delay.
Bringing your A-game to the homebuying journey can make a world of difference in any housing market. By using the aforementioned tips, you can simplify your home search and accelerate the process of acquiring your dream residence.